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Meet the 2015 Badger Bioneers

Meet the 2015 Badger Bioneers, three local thinkers and doers actively working to lead the Madison Region to a more sustainable future. The three Badger Bioneers were nominated by the community and selected by our conference Advisory Council. The Badger Bioneers were recognized at the Badger Bioneers Conference on November 10, 2015. They were also interviewed on-stage by Karen Lincoln Michel, editor of Madison Magazine.

We proudly honored:

Shannon Bunsen

Sustainability Program Coordinator,

UW Health

Shannon Bunsen is UW Health’s first Sustainability Program Coordinator and current Sustainability Committee Chair. While earning her Bachelors of Science in Zoology and Spanish at UW-Madison, she began working part time at UW Hospital. There, she witnessed the opportunities—and need—for sustainable practices in healthcare systems. She shifted her coursework from neuroscience and psychology to conservation biology. While she was pleased to find that her passion for nature could be integrated into her studies and career, the psychology background also proved to be quite valuable as a sustainability leader’s greatest challenge lies in influencing behavior change. In addition to creating her position as well as one for a sustainability student, she has incorporated sustainability into UW Health’s mission statement, organizational culture and operating budget. She is responsible for shaping the overall vision and strategy for sustainability, and managing all aspects of the program, from green purchasing to outreach. She coordinates the efforts of 20 green teams, 5 focus groups and a 30 member sustainability committee. Shannon has grown the program across the organization and beyond through partnerships with groups such as the UW-Madison Office of Sustainability. Since 2013 she has been an active Sustainable Business Network member and has served on the Bioneers Advisory Council. In October 2014, she spoke at Ignite Madison’s “Attainable Sustainable” event, and this August she accepted the American Society for Healthcare Engineering “Energy to Care” award for significant energy reduction. She participates in local and regional healthcare sustainability collaborations, and was invited to attend a weeklong healthcare sustainability trip in Sweden this September.


Eric Udelhofen

Solar Project Manager – H&H Solar
Co-Owner & Farmer – Taproot Farm and Fruit

Eric Udelhofen is a farmer and renewable energy developer who dreams that by the time his newborn son is his age, renewable energy and local, organic agriculture will supply more than 50% of the energy and food needs of our country. 
With his wife Amy, Eric manages Taproot Farm and Fruit, a certified organic fruit and vegetable farm in Ridgeway, 30 miles west of Madison. The core of the business is a CSA that spans the second half of the year (August – December) and focuses on apples and storage crops, both of which are preserved well into winter months in a new 600 ft2 root cellar. Eric and Amy are really excited about the craft of cellaring, and believe that the Madison Area has a long way to go to becoming more self-sufficient in year-round local produce. 
Eric’s other passion is helping to grow the renewable energy industry in Wisconsin and the upper Midwest. He works at H&H Solar, where he works with farms, businesses, utilities and individuals to make the switch to solar. In this vein, he has written a wide array of grants, and has also helped organize group buy programs in partnership with several area non-profits which allow members to aggregate their purchasing power to get discounts from suppliers. 
Prior to working at H&H, Eric spent seven years working for EDP Renewables in 8 different offices around the country as a financial analyst and project developer of utility-scale wind and solar projects.

Jason Vargo

Assistant Scientist
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Global Health Institute
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Growing up, Jason Vargo never gave much thought to cities despite living near, what today is, one of the most talked about - Detroit, MI. It wasn't until he left the midwest after college – and then the US – that he began to pay attention to the impact of urban design on the environment, people’s behavior, and ultimately on population health. In 2012, after completing his graduate work in public health and urban planning in Atlanta Jason returned to the midwest via Madison. Now as an assistant scientist at the University of Wisconsin's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Global Health Institute he thinks about cities everyday.

Jason's work on built environments is motivated by recognition that cities are human habitat and by a desire to improve the lives of all by making healthy choices easy choices. In his role at UW, Jason is helping develop a cross-campus initiative (the UW-Madison UniverCity Alliance) that will direct university activities toward cities and further the practice of sustainability across Wisconsin and abroad. Locally, he is helping to launch a series of sessions on Tactical Urbanism being held at the Central Library Bubbler. The goal of the series is to introduce citizens to ideas for positive change in their neighborhoods. Attendees return home with some basic skills that they can use to connect with the people and places around them.

Jason's scholarship spans the topics of urbanism and environmental health, and includes thought pieces on metro sapiens, peer-reviewed publications, text books, and popular media.


Karen Lincoln Michel


Madison Magazine

Karen Lincoln Michel is editor of Madison Magazine, a city-regional publication that covers business and lifestyle in Wisconsin’s capital city and surrounding areas. She is a former executive editor of The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, La., and assistant managing editor of the Green Bay Press Gazette. As assistant managing editor in Green Bay, Michel oversaw the opinion page team, conducted community outreach to attract new audiences and contributed toward public service journalism through data-driven analyses. Previously she covered state government and politics in her role as the Press-Gazette’s Madison bureau chief. Michel began her daily newspaper career in Wisconsin as a reporter at the La Crosse Tribune and went on to The Dallas Morning News in Texas, where she covered a variety of beats. From 1987 to 2005, Lincoln Michel was part-owner of the twice-monthly newspaper News From Indian Country, published in northern Wisconsin. She has written extensively about Native American issues as a freelancer and was a columnist for The New York Times Syndicate’s former New America News Service. In 2008, Michel completed a two-year term as president of UNITY: Journalists for Diversity, representing hundreds of news reporters and editors of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. A past president of the Native American Journalists Association, Michel has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and a master’s degree from Marquette University. She is a member of the Ho-Chunk tribe in Wisconsin.



2015 Badger Bioneers Advisory Council

A round of applause for this fantastic group of community leaders who donated time and effort to help us shape the Badger Bioneers 2015 programming and select the three Badger Bioneers!

  • Faustina Bohling, United Way of Dane County
  • Kshinte Braithwaite, Goodman Community Center
  • Shannon Bunsen, UW Health*
  • Beth Churchill, American Family Insurance
  • Jay Ferm, Planet Bike
  • Stephan Gilchrist, Edgewood College
  • Bill Herman, Aprilaire
  • Brenna Holzhauer, Aldo Leopold Nature Center
  • Gary Molz, EZ Office Products
  • Ben Reynolds, Reynolds Transfer & Storage
  • Nick Robinson, Trek Bicycle Corporation
  • Sarah Schroeder, CUNA Mutual Group
  • Mikey Stewart, UW Credit Union


*Shannon Bunsen is recognized here for her contributions to the Advisory Council, but it should be noted that she did not participate in the Badger Bioneers selection process.